The trailer for Fear of Rain makes the new Castille Landon written and directed film look like a horror movie, but really it’s a tense, engaging, and constantly challenging thriller film that will have you second guessing everything you’re seeing right up to the final moments.
The film follows Rain (Madison Iseman), a teenage girl with schizophrenia. Opening with shocking images of her being chased through a dark forest by a mystery figure before being buried alive, we quickly learn that this was the latest episode, and she wakes in hospital. On the verge of being sent to an institution, her mother (Katherine Heigl) and father (Harry Connick Jr.) stress upon her the need to try to manage her symptoms the best she can.
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Returning to school, Rain finds herself isolated and alone, her former friends having shunned her because of her mental illness. The only person who seems to want to give her any time of day is Caleb (Israel Broussard), a new student in the school. Unfortunately, Rain isn’t entirely sure that he’s real, and starts to think that this kind young man might be a figment of her mind. Things get further complicated for her when she sees her neighbour, her English teacher Mrs McConnell (Eugenie Bondurant), in her attic window with a small girl. Rain becomes convinced that her neighbour has kidnapped the girl, and is desperate to prove to everyone that it’s not another of her hallucinations.
Fear of Rain makes a lot of use of Rain’s mental health issues, and you’ll spend a good portion of the film questioning what you’re seeing. Rain has a checklist of things she goes through to try and figure out if things are real or not, and you’ll soon find yourself doing the same things; looking for clues to see if what we’re seeing is actually happening. This is one of the main ways that the film manages to keep the pressure on across the run time, and there are times where you’ll find what should be normal moments having an edge to them, as you’re desperately trying to figure out if it’s actually happening.
There are moments where I was yelling at Rain to do things a little differently, such as taking photos of what she was seeing to prove to people it was real, but considering the girl was struggling with her mental health so much it’s easy to forgive her not doing these things as she wasn’t thinking logically; plus it kept the mystery going for longer..
This isn’t just used to good effect with the whole plot around her neighbour, but with small things too. You’ll be looking at characters that Rain’s talking to and trying to see if other people are interacting with that character too. You’ll be looking for clues that answer your questions. There were times where I’d thought I’d figured things out, but then began to doubt them again, and you’ll go back and forth between thinking something’s real or not right up to the final moments of the film. It really does put you in Rain’s shoes.
Whilst I do suffer from some mental health issues I don’t have schizophrenia, and I don’t know anyone who does; so I can’t really speak to how well the film portrays or handles this issue. However, it seems to be at least trying to do good with it. It never tries to demonise Rain or her health issues, and the character of Caleb looks at her schizophrenia as just something that makes Rain who she is, that everyone is different and it’s not something to be ashamed of (a moment in the film where I said out loud that he better not be imaginary because such a sweet and wholesome boy needs to be real). There are always challenges when portraying mental health on film, especially when using it as an important plot point like this, something that drives the entire story, but Castille Landon at least seems to be trying to do the right thing here, and I think it’s one of the better depictions of mental health struggles I’ve seen on film.
A large part of that is down to the cast though. Madison Iseman is phenomenal in this film, and brings a level of energy to the role that it incredibly impressive for such a young actress. You can really feel the struggle that Rain is going through, her questioning what’s real, her fight to be seen as healthy, and the desperation to prove that she’s right about her neighbour. Some of the most powerful moments in the film are where she’s acting her heart out, and they hit hard. The same can be said for Katherine Heigl and Harry Connick JR., who excel as parents struggling to do the best for their daughter. You can see the desperation in them to keep her safe, to help her get better, but also how it’s wearing them to breaking point.
Fear of Rain kept me on the edge of my seat right up to the end. I was constantly questioning what I was watching, looking for small clues, and wishing I knew what was going on. Because of that, the superb acting from the cast, and the focus on the characters and their struggles over what could have been a very cliched plot, I’m struggling to think of any part of the film that I disliked. A hugely impressive film.
Fear of Rain is out on Digital Platforms on 26th April from Signature Entertainment.